Adi in America
By: Adi Ratzon
Three months ago I took a flight that has changed my life completely. All by myself, with two big suitcases, I started my journey in understanding myself, my nationality, my faith and my beliefs; nothing really prepared me for that. All of my previous knowledge as an Israeli about America wasn't enough for the simple reason that it is not the same to hear about it in the news, T.V. shows and movies...as I once believed it to be. Everything was new to me, so I was experiencing it for the first time. This was the first time I heard Jews need to pay in order to go to a synagogue, or to go to high-holiday services like Yom Kippur. In addition, this was the first time I celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving. To be honest, it all kind of felt like I was in a movie, and just like in the movies, the difficulties came.
Beyond the difficulty of being away from family and friends, I discovered how the smallest things affect the sense of belonging. No more Celsius degrees; welcome to Fahrenheit degrees. No more kilometers; welcome to miles and feet. Even the date is written differently, and all these little things have collectively been a culture-shock to me.
I knew speaking the English language would be a challenge, but I was also comforted by the fact that I had studied English previously at school, and for years, I listened to english music and watched American television. Of course, that's simply not enough. Apparently, it is not that easy to translate what I'm thinking from Hebrew to English. It is not enough to know the words, because a lot of the words have different meanings.
Let's talk about the most important thing, which is the state of Israel. The reason I came to Baltimore in the first place was to advocate for the state of Israel and to educate the community about my beautiful and beloved home. I’ve heard it said that one must step away from a place to appreciate what's there.
You can of course guess that I came here with love for my country in advance. However, being here, away from her, I understood how I have no other country. Just like the famous Israeli singer, Gali Atari writes about Israel, I too see Israeli culture as unique and special. Israeli culture has a lot of layers and complexities, which is also what makes it beautiful. A person can be unique, but a bit like everyone else; being together and alone and knowing that no matter what, you will always have support and help. The State of Israel is my home, but it is also the home of all Jews. This is the only country that even if you don't live in it, you wish to do so. It is beyond the territory or property, it is believed, worldview and in front of everyone's family. I wish I could pass the feeling and the love I have for Israel, to the community here.
I'm sure this year will bring a lot of opportunities, learning and new experiences. I'm looking forward to feeling and learning more about the culture here, while also bringing my knowledge of Israeli culture to the community.